Household activities are still little discussed in economics. Several commentators have presented it as the result of an old and persistent nonrecognition of unpaid domestic work’s social and economic value by economists. According to them, the “devaluation” of this work stems from its categorization as unproductive labor throughout the history of economic thought. While, within separate studies, Mill and Jevons have been accused of devaluing household activities assigned to women, no direct comparison of their discussions has ever been made. Yet, such a comparison is particularly enriching. Mill and Jevons are indeed situated at a turning point of the history of economics and the productive/unproductive distinction. The article endeavours to highlight and to clarify the implications of this transition by examining Mill’s and Jevons’s definitions of economically productive activities and, more generally, their conceptions of economics.

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